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Comparison of Concentric and Eccentric Bench Press Repetitions to Failure

Kelly, Stephen B.1; Brown, Lee E.2; Hooker, Steven P.3; Swan, Pamela D.3; Buman, Matthew P.3; Alvar, Brent A.4; Black, Laurie E.5

Journal of Strength & Conditioning Research: April 2015 - Volume 29 - Issue 4 - p 1027–1032
doi: 10.1519/JSC.0000000000000713
Original Research

Abstract: Kelly, SB, Brown, LE, Hooker, SP, Swan, PD, Buman, MP, Alvar, BA, and Black, LE. Comparison of concentric and eccentric bench press repetitions to failure. J Strength Cond Res 29(4): 1027–1032, 2015—Eccentric muscle actions (ECC) are characterized by muscle lengthening, despite actin-myosin crossbridge formation. Muscles acting eccentrically are capable of producing higher levels of force compared with muscles acting concentrically. The purpose of this study was to determine whether ECC bench press yields greater strength than concentric (CON) as determined by 1 repetition maximum (1RM). Additionally, a comparison was made examining differences in the number of repetitions to failure at different relative intensities of 1RM. Thirty healthy men (age = 24.63 ± 5.6 years) were tested for 1RM in CON and ECC bench press and the number of repetitions completed at 60, 70, 80, and 90% 1RM. For CON repetitions, the weight was mechanically lowered to the chest, and the participant pressed it up until the elbows were fully extended. The ECC bench press consisted of lowering a barbell from a fully extended elbow position to the chest in a continuous controlled manner for 3 seconds as determined by electronic metronome. Paired t-tests showed that ECC 1RM (115.99 ± 31.08 kg) was significantly (p ≤ 0.05) greater than CON 1RM (93.56 ± 26.56 kg), and the number of repetitions completed at 90% 1RM was significantly (p ≤ 0.05) greater in ECC (7.67 ± 3.24) as compared with CON (4.57 ± 2.21). There were no significant differences in number of completed repetitions during CON and ECC bench press at 60, 70, and 80% 1RM. These data indicate that ECC actions yield increased force capabilities (∼120%) as compared with CON in the bench press and may be less prone to fatigue, especially at higher intensities. These differences suggest a need to develop unique strategies for training eccentrically.

1Department of Kinesiology, Vanguard University, Costa Mesa, California;

2Center for Sport Performance, California State University, Fullerton, California;

3School of Nutrition and Health Promotion, Arizona State University, Phoenix, Arizona;

4Rocky Mountain University of Health Professions, Provo, Utah; and

5College of Allied Health, California Baptist University, Riverside, California

Address correspondence to Stephen B. Kelly,

Copyright © 2015 by the National Strength & Conditioning Association.